1) Frankl often quotes Nietzsche: "He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how."
2) A method employed in psychology, "logotherapy" causes a patient to pinpoint and become familiar with the meaning of his life, which according to Frankl is the patient's will to strive, succeed, and to live.
3) Frankl goes on to suggest three ways in which one can strive for meaning. The first one is to accomplish something. Additionally, meaning can be found by loving another. Finally, man can find meaning by suffering.
4) Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.
5) Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, you freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.
In telling his story, Dr. Frankl convincingly argues that the secret to life is not happiness, but meaning.
It is difficult to read about his suffering and the suffering of millions at the hands of the Nazis. His resulting wisdom and hope for the future are incredibly inspiring.
I decided to listen to this book, thinking that perhaps it might help my perspective. I have been looking at the problems unfolding in here America (and around the globe) with such pessimism -- evidence of looming environmental, catastrophes, growing income disparities, injustices that just seem to be increasing, more impediments to free speech, along with information fatigue in citizens, while a massive transfer of more and more of, "the commons" to private control is accelerating like never before...
I thought that, Man's Search For Meaning, might help me to appreciate that not only have there been darker times/places, but that, even under the most horrific of conditions, the human spirit has an incredible ability to continue on. That was why I got this book. It is an extraordinary book, so powerful that at times I had to stop the CD simply to think about and process what was being said.
Although at times the narrative was darker than I imagined it could be, the narrative combined with the author's analysis -- as a psychiatrist -- was both illuminating and reassuring: The human being is capable of adapting to and surviving through some pretty extraordinarily dispiriting, dehumanizing and degrading experiences. In that, I found a bit of hopefulness -- along with the reminder that even though we may ourselves be headed for some enormous challenges as a nation, at least for right now and for many of us, things really are SO MUCH better then what many have had to endure.
It is worth noting -- that many scholars believe an important part of what led up to the Holocaust -- was the declining social and economic conditions in Germany following WWI -- a scary thought now as we watch the neoliberal movement remove public safety nets, and shift wealth increasingly away from the masses and towards the most privileged, while Facebook and other technologies remove privacy and make big brother monitoring of us easier and easier -- but I diverge.
The take away is that while we often can't control the events that happen to us, we do have a choice about how we react to those events.
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